As an ordained minister, Bauman certainly began early in the book with fluffy religious talk and soft references to God. He even cited numerous people, like Mother Theresa, T.S. Elliott, Dallas Willard, and Nelson Mandela, to name a small handful. While I respect what little I know of those individuals, I would have expected an ordained minister to open the first chapter with a strong introduction to what he believes is the call of God to "change the world" from the lens of Scripture. But the book was so full of theological garbage that another book could be written to refute all of his Emergent-like errors. I don't know where to begin, so I'll start at the beginning, I suppose.
CHANGE THE WORLD:
Bauman laid out 3 main points that he calls the "blueprint" for changing the world:
(1) "The first is universal, archetypal, and invitational. It's God's divine blueprint for saving the world"...and you and I are "...invited, by design, to join in";
(2) "The second is personal: how God has uniquely created, called, and designed you to participate in remaking the world"...and "we'll explore and expand the idea of creativity and our role in remaking the world";
(3) "The third is practical: what you must do to effect positive change..." (p.12)
In short, according to Bauman, you and I are invited to "change" and "remake" the world, and not to introduce people to Jesus Christ, the Forgiver of sin. Bauman's approach to "changing the world" was so worldly-based that I wonder if he ever considered the possibility that God never asked us to change the world. Do you want to know why? BECAUSE IT ISN'T THERE!
In fact, he omitted two all-important comments, both of which were spoken by Jesus: "You will always have the poor with you..." (Matt 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8), and "Go into all the world an make disciples of all nations" (Matt 28:19). But then, I suppose acknowledging the truth of Jesus's words would likely derail Bauman's goal of convincing us to "change the world". Ironically, Bauman wrote, "Too often we tackle age-old problems of poverty or injustice by retreading ideas that have failed. Sometimes we give up because we are convinced the problems are impossible to overcome" (p.72). Maybe that's because Jesus was actually correct about poverty, and that he meant make disciples, and not "remake the world".
WHERE'S THE GOSPEL?
NEVER THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE BOOK did Bauman EVER introduce his readers to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Chapter 5 was close. It was chock-full of gospel-sounding words, but never the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Just when I thought Bauman was sure to tell us what it is, he capitulated to universalism with the following: "But what is good news today? Is it not that we can be free from pain, shame, wrongs, and suffering, temporally and eventually, once and for all? The gospel in its purest form puts suffering out of business, and it begins here and now" (p.80).
Did you catch that? Bauman turned the message of the Kingdom into a message that is no better than one of our freedom from earthly suffering. He had the perfect opportunity to explain that we are all riddled with sin, and that we stand to be condemned under God's wrath if we die in our sins. He failed to offer any explanation into the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ in our place. He did not explain that the great news of the gospel is that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ secures (for those of us who trust him) our freedom from sin (not from earthly suffering) and rightness with God!
Later in the book, Bauman cited Jesus as the ultimate example of a prophet, saying, "He (Jesus) offered ultimate solidarity through his death while also demonstrating a sort of divine protest through the resurrection" (p.119). Really? Ultimate solidarity? Divine protest? No! That's not what Jesus's death, burial and resurrection were about. They never were -- nor ever will be -- about uniting mankind under a banner of divine protest against injustice. They were -- and always will be -- about making sinners right with God, and he rose from the dead to give forgiven sinners eternal life! Sadly, though, "Being prophetic is calling attention to the will of God...for Belinda (Bauman's wife), it means telling the world about...the people of Congo" (p.119). Her prophetic message to the world is about Congo? I wonder when Jesus said, "Go into all the world and tell them about the suffering of people in Congo, and not about me."
TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD:
I didn't find myself agreeing with Bauman very often, nor was I at all inspired to "change the world". But the entire book couldn't be junk, could it? Here's one (of only a few) quote I appreciated: "...our actions tell us more about our values than our stated beliefs. Our behavior, in fact, is a window to our value system. And our values tell us what we really believe" (p.95). I agree! The great mercy bestowed upon forgiven sinners ought to inspire us to proclaim the same message of grace to others, and to extend grace to them in their joy AND their suffering.
I fully recognize the predicament in which I place myself when I disagree with such a book as "Possible", because doing so might suggest I disagree with righting wrongs, defending the defenseless, feeding the hungry, or clothing the poor, etc. But that is absolutely not it. In fact, I believe true followers of Jesus Christ ought to be doing those things. But those things ought not be the central focus, or a false gospel of sorts. Those things ought not replace the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for no amount of clothing, food, shelter, justice, etc. will EVER make a sinner right with God. Instead, the sinner will simply die a sinner with clothes on his back and food in her belly. The good news of Jesus Christ must be spoken in conjunction with good deeds! And Bauman has failed to do just that in this book.
I cannot support this book (and, by the way, I am disappointed Louie Giglio would write an endorsement for "Possible"), nor can I recommend it to anyone. In fact, when I was offered the book for review, I was asked to request and give away some small booklets to people in my church. I didn't want to be greedy, but I was obligated to request at least one packet of 10 booklets. So I received a pack of 10...but I will not be giving ANY of those booklets to anyone -- not in the church, nor at the supermarket. Sorry, Multnomah. But shame on your for peddling this theological garbage for profit!
Just 1 star, because zero is not allowed.
I received this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my unbiased review of it. All opinions are mine, and were not forced upon me. I was not required to provide a positive review...which I didn't.
I guess if you're still interested in the book, you can click here to visit the author's web page.
at 8:46 PM
"Hello friends, please say a prayer for Suzie. She is having surgery this afternoon to remove a tumor in her lungs. Thank you."
I'm satisfied with the request for prayer...it's a serious need. However, many of the replies to the request give me heartburn. Here are some examples:
-- "Prayers and thoughts sent!"
--"Prayers headed her way!"
So what's my beef?
First, we have a rather cavalier approach to prayer these days. After all, we have emails to send, Facebook feeds to read, and candy to crush. To many people today, the average prayer is akin to a short tweet or email sent up the chain to God, only then to be checked off the list of things to do that day. I imagine God opening his web browser and reading, "You've got mail!" His reply? "Oh, super! Let me just reach down there and fix things now that I've read all these little notes asking for my help."
I imagine people praying (if they actually pray for the requested need at all), "God, please heal Suzie", then clapping their hands together like they're removing dirt from their palms, saying, "Good, done with that one. Ok, now what am I going to make for dinner?" We may not actually SAY those words, but our approach to prayer seems to suggest that's exactly what we believe.
Pastor David A. Redding, in his 1962 book, "The Parables of Jesus", when discussing the parable of the persistent widow, wrote, "Those who take prayer so lightly they can't remember what is was they meant to pray for and never pray for the same thing two weeks in a row, who assume one mention is enough, at least to be mad about if He doesn't answer within the hour, make prayer a pity. Prayer demands determination and patience." (p.39).
Next, what exactly are "thoughts" sent? This has also been translated as "positive vibes", "good thoughts", etc. How can one's positive vibes or nice thoughts help even the most distressed person in this world? "That guy down the street sure is cold and hungry, but I'll just think positive thoughts, and everything should be alright." James wrote, "What good is it if a person goes without clothes or daily food and you say to him, 'Go, I wish you well. Be warm and well fed?' and you do nothing for his physical needs?...faith without deeds is useless!" (James 2:14-26). Our thoughts cannot truly help anyone! The hurting, the hungry, and the lonely crave our ACTION, not simply our "positive thoughts and vibes".
Finally, and this is probably my biggest beef of all -- whenever I read something like, "...sending prayers your way", I get, well.... NO! Don't send your prayers to me, or to Suzie, or to the doctors, or to anyone else. What value is in that? Pray FOR me, or Suzie, or the doctors, but not TO us. Sadly, this is not just something I've observed only from non-believers; I've also read this from professing Christians!
Prayer offered to anyone but the Father Almighty is not only pointless, but is an idolatrous abomination to God himself! (Ex. 20:3). Please, if you're truly going to pray for this-or-that need, please earnestly approach the throne of Heaven (Matt. 6:9-13), and beg God for His mercy and favor. If you pray for me, please do so in this manner, or I must kindly ask you not to pray for me at all. Please don't ever send prayers "my way". Instead, "...in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Php. 4:6). Approach HIM, not me -- or anyone else.
Lord, may I take prayer so seriously that I will "pray with passion -- until all the yawns are gone and the sleepy, halfhearted hopes and dreams become burning desires". May I remember "prayer is only play until it is intense, relentless." (Redding, p.41).
at 10:26 AM
I requested this book for review because my 9 year-old son was studying the founding of America at the same time this book was made available. I told him I had requested the book, and that it was my hopes that he would read it and type a review. This book is written for youngsters, so I thought it would be best for a youngster to read and review. What you are about to read are HIS words, not mine (I only helped with very minor editing for flow), so please be graceful when you read my 9 year-old's thought processes and sentence structure.
HIS REVIEW: There were two kids named Ambrose and John and their father gave them a letter to give to George Washington about the secret plan the Redcoats were going to play on them. When they were gone they had to get horses. They arrived at a barn to get some horses to ride but they had to do a trick to get the horses. They did their trick and they got 2 horses.
When they rode in the woods they got caught by some spies. Their father told them to trust no one and that’s what they did. They rode off into the distance.
When it was getting dark they went in to the woods and slept for the night. In the morning they saw someone took their horses. They went to the thief’s camp and they got their horses and rode away. When they rode away they got to George Washington’s house and got caught by his guards. The guards took them to Washington. When George Washington saw the kids he said to the guards to let them go and give them bread.
So the kids gave him the letter. He read the letter, which said the Redcoats were going to attack. He got right to work on preparing for the fight against the redcoats.
LIKES: I liked that it was very kid friendly and it was very entertaining to read. I learned that the Redcoats did not like George Washington. It was good that my class had already learned about George Washington, the Redcoats, and the Patriots.
DISLIKES: I liked the pictures, but they weren’t as nicely drawn as in some of the other books I’ve read.
RATING: I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.
DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers (Zondervan). None of the opinions were forced upon us, and we were not required to provide a positive review.
at 1:52 PM
INTRODUCTION: Legend has it that one, two, or three babies were born during the 60's Woodstock concert, but none of those babies, now long grown (if they exist) have been identified. Identifying one of the Woodstock babies would require the sharp skills and diligent efforts of a trained investigator.
When two lovers, one of them being a pregnant 19-year old Caroline Wolf, and their friends attend Woodstock, a drug-induced high led to the birth of a child who would disappear. Decades later, Caroline's other child is ill and in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Caroline reaches out to Chase, a retired Police officer from Detroit PD. Chase has a never-give-up attitude, the perfect candidate to find Caroline's lost Woodstock baby.
The problem was that Caroline wasn't exactly sure the baby was still alive, and didn't know where to suggest Chase begin looking. Using his investigative skills, Chase's leads take him into Saline, Michigan, a city gripped in the clutches of a corrupt Hannigan family.
What would Chase uncover? Would he find the baby? Would good prevail over evil? Read the book to find out!
LIKES: The author, Steve Hagood, is a Michigan native who decided to write the setting of his book in his hometown of Saline. Being familiar with that city myself, I was excited to follow the story around town in my mind. I saw clearly the buildings, roads, and turns as he described them, and I even imagined where certain crimes had taken place -- even though he didn't suggest exactly where they occurred.
The book contains only one story line, which makes for a quick, easy, and entertaining read. (In fact, I completed the book in two sittings.) The chapters are short (typically 2 or 3 pages), and he keeps readers turning to the next chapter. I like this because many cookie-cutter books have two or three story lines, one of which is usually just a "filler" plot to make a book a little thicker so publishers can bump up the prices. Being an independent book, however, there was no need for unnecessary fluff.
Steve is a gifted writer whose scene and character descriptions provide just enough detail to paint a mental picture, yet not so much that bogs a reader down. He writes with wit and real-world humor that caused me to laugh aloud a number of times.
I smiled when I reached the end, and I said to myself, "Well done, Steve". While there was no major twist to the story, I was pleasantly surprised how one relatively minor character came into play at the end of the book. I couldn't help but think Steve's was a brilliant conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!
DISLIKES: Lower-budget publications tend to have a few editing flaws, and this one was one of them. There were several in this book, but none detracted from the plot. However, I had to re-read a few sentences to think about what Steve intended to say in those particular instances. Because I know the author, I sent the list of necessary edits to him in case this book goes to additional printings.
RATING: If you're into investigative stories with creative wit, I think you'll be pleased with this book. I think Steve is a talented writer who has a serious potential to be on a best-seller list one day if a big-name publisher will pick up on his work. I give this book 4 stars out of 5. It was a fun page-turner, but in need of some edits. The 155-page, soft-cover book retails for $9.95, and the Amazon Kindle edition retails for $4.99. Please support an up-and-coming author by purchasing your copy today!
DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge directly from the author in exchange for my unbiased review of it. I was not obligated to provide a positive review; all opinions are mine.
at 9:12 PM
When I recently watched the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs on television, I was stricken by the imposing figure who was the team’s head coach – Mike Matheny. Every time the camera showed him, I couldn’t help but admire how he led his team – from the way he stood calmly and stoically in the dugout, to the manner in which he argued close calls. I make no bones about it, I’m a Tiger baseball fan! More than that, however, I’m a baseball fan as there are so many aspects of the game I enjoy. Baseball is so much more than a sport of bat, ball, and glove. And Matheny models character that youngsters (and oldsters alike) would be good to emulate.
Matheny appears to live the class he preaches. While fans can watch him in action in person and on television, now we can read about it in his new release, “The Matheny Manifesto”. Here’s the gist: Prior to agreeing to coach a youth-league baseball team, Matheny wrote a letter to and for the parents of the boys on the team. It became known as his manifesto. The general synopsis was that parents need to keep quiet and trust the coaches to coach. While explaining his coaching philosophy, Matheny lays out 8 keys to success: Leadership, Confidence, Teamwork, Faith, Class, Character, Toughness, & Humility.
“The Matheny Manifesto” is not just another hoo-rah book spouting various leadership principles supposedly valued by some high-paid, upper-class, successful individual. Instead, it is a short, easy, leadership primer that highly encourages one central theme: Class! Class is weaved into each of the keys to success. Win, lose, or draw, in order to teach youngsters class, we must be adults who model class. Even if you’re not a baseball coach or fan, the principles laid out in the book apply to all arenas of life.
DISLIKES: I fully recognize Matheny didn’t intend for this book to be about him. It’s about his philosophy of success. However, high-profile figures have the ability to espouse their philosophies in books people will buy because we look up to these individuals. That said, there is not one picture in the book…and no, I’m not like a 4th grader who chooses books based upon the number of pictures it contains in order to make it a quicker read. Like I said, I’m a baseball fan, so I would have liked (even expected) to see some pictures from Matheny’s high-school-to-the-pro’s playing days. Especially for the outrageous price being asked for this small 221-page book ($24 USD), I would hope it would contain a few glossy pictures. That being the case, I think the pricing will be the main discourages from people buying this book…and it’s unfortunate because the book is so well-written, containing much encouragement!
RATING: 4 stars out of 5
DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my unbiased review of it. All opinions are mine, and were not forced upon me. I was not obligated to provide a positive review.
at 10:19 AM
Like us, you've Googled the "How to's" for building one of those wooden load-bearing bridges out of popsicle sticks and/or tongue depressors. Maybe you've decided to try a free-time experiment, or, like us, your student is participating in a Science Olympiad competition.
Long story short, our son was told THE DAY BEFORE the competition that he could participate in the bridge building portion. We were given a bag containing 100 popsicle sticks and 20 tongue depressors, we could use only glue to attach them, and the bridge had to span 1 foot of distance. Not cry-babying here, but while the other students had several weeks to build sturdy bridges, we had only about 18 hours. That's why I share this...in the end, the quick design we devised ultimately held approximately 150 pounds and didn't break! Here's what we did.
We decided to design the bridge with a truss system of layers of staggered sticks. Each truss consisted of 4 layers of sticks set on top of each other at differing (thirds) intervals. If you can zoom in on this picture, you'll see we "striped" lines across the face of the sticks, dividing each stick into thirds. Rather than overlaying the sticks in halves (imagine a cinder block wall), we decided to overlay them in thirds so that if one stick gave out under a load, there was another immediately below it to help support it.
In total, we made 6 trusses that stretched approximately 15 inches, and each truss consisted of approximately 16 popsicle sticks (the top and bottom layers were exactly 4 sticks long). While the glue was setting, but not completely dry, we overlayed what would be the top of the bridge with the thick tongue depressors. Their purpose wasn't to provide strength (since they laid flat, rather than vertical), but to connect the trusses together and hold them in place. We crossed our fingers as we allowed the glue to harden overnight. We weren't confident, and even prepared our son for the possibility (probability, even) that his bridge would probably crumble under even the lightest weight. But...
Great job, kids! What would be a competition without also teaching some invaluable life lessons? Here's what we helped teach our son.
First, life sometimes gives us lemons (like being told to build something or complete a task in a relatively short time). But when handed lemons, make lemonade. In other words, do the best you can with what you've been given. That's real life, folks! How many times do we have an agenda for our work day, but our supervisor says to us at the last minute, "Hey, I need this done ASAP!" So what do responsible people do? Cry? Whine? No, we get to work and do the best we can.
Second, this bridge was a direct result of teamwork, and not any one person's ideas. Our son, my wife, and I all had good ideas about how to build the sturdiest bridge in the shortest amount of time, but we had to acknowledge when someone else's ideas were better than our own. Due to time constraints, we didn't have days or weeks to debate or research our ideas. Instead, we had to make decisions and put them into action.
Finally, our son loves science, but is not so fond of math. We've been trying to show him how math comes into play in all fields of science. Here, we helped him see the value of thirds and how they work together to even build bridges. We connected the boring-ness of theoretical math with the exciting fun-ness of science.
CONCLUSION: I hope this is helpful to you in your bridge-building adventure. So, have fun, keep calm, and build on!
at 7:57 AM
Many authors have undertaken the difficult task of writing about the Holy Spirit. The "3rd" person of the Trinity can truly be difficult to understand, and I imagine He's an even more difficult Person to write about. I've read a few contemporary books on the Holy Spirit, including "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan. This one, "Jesus Continued", ranks among my favorite contemporary works on the Holy Spirit.
The book is divided into three parts: Part 1: The Missing Spirit; Part 2: Experiencing the Spirit; and Part 3: Seeking the Spirit. The first two parts each contain six chapters, and the third contains four chapters, totaling 227 pages.
THOUGHT-PROVOCATION: I was inspired by numerous thought-nuggets throughout the book, and there is not enough space in this blog review to discuss them all. Therefore, I will briefly address a few of those nuggets I found most insightful or thought-provoking.
1) A famous quote has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, "Preach the gospel; when necessary, use words." J.D. discusses this peculiar concept of "witnessing with my life" on page 57. He writes, "The gospel is...an announcement about what Jesus did to save people, not a presentation of what a good person you are...Sharing that announcement requires words, because you can't really explain what Jesus did through charades. How can you preach the gospel of Christ's finished work without words?" (emphasis mine).
This thought inspires me because the Holy Spirit's primary role, as J.D. quotes J.I. Packer, is to illuminate the gospel message in what J.I. calls it a "floodlight ministry" (p.23). Therefore, it seems appropriate that the Spirit of God would inspire us to speak the truth of the gospel He intends to illuminate. I wonder if Assisi's quote has done more harm than good by providing well-intending Christians with an escape route from having to speak the gospel. Instead, they hope living a good life will do it all. Certainly, words AND actions ought to work in concert with each other, but actions alone do not explain the gospel message with any sense of clarity.
2) All of Chapter 5: "God Doesn't Need You" was entirely liberating. Ironically, this nugget falls on the heels of what inspired me in the thoughts above. In chapter 5, J.D. expresses that "not every assignment that comes from heaven has your name on it" and "There's no reason to feel guilty over what you're not doing if you're doing what God has commanded you to do"..."nor should I feel guilty that God has not assigned it to me." (all p.82)
Let's hear it for one collective sigh of relief: ahhhhhhhhhh. You mean, it's not all up to me? You mean, if all the details aren't hammered out, God can still use my flaws? You mean, if I'm not eloquent, the Spirit of God can still use my words to accomplish his floodlight ministry on the gospel? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! "Faithfulness, not degree of sacrifice", writes J.D., "is our measure of 'success'" (p.83).
3) In Chapter 16, "The Way Up is the Way Down", J.D. punched me right in the gut. Hard! "You will never be full of the Spirit so long as you are full of yourself" (p.219). Whoa, don't be so hard on me, J.D.! See, I'm a rather proud person. I've accomplished much, and I want to make a good name for myself. (By the way, I should know better...my name isn't known by initials, such as J.I. Packer, A.W. Tozer, or J.D. Greear...just sayin'). But the prideful person I am is exactly the kind of person the Spirit of God cannot use. Instead, "God's power comes as a gift only to the empty-spirited", J.D. writes on page 219.
This sobers me because I find myself in competition with the Spirit, thinking I can do much on my own. Obviously, that doesn't work. Instead, I need to be broken and emptied of self so the Spirit can fill me. J.D. quotes A.W. Tozer, "It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply" (p.220). Honestly, my pride says, "I don't want to be hurt deeply!" But my spirit says, "I must be if I want to be used by God." Thanks for the gut check, J.
RECOMMENDATION: I enjoyed or was challenged by just about every page in this book, either by having my theology challenged, or by chewing on thought-nuggets that inspire me to be more conscious of the Holy Spirit's work in and around me. If you're the type of person who doesn't want to read anything that might rattle your long-held beliefs, then don't bother with this book. While that's not the purpose of J.D.'s book, it's bound to happen. Just stick to reading only the topics you agree with and be content in your world. Otherwise, if you want to be challenged and encouraged by the Holy Spirit's real, living presence TODAY, then this one just might be right for you.
RATING: All said, I give this book 4 1/2 stars out of 5. I like what he had to say, but I'd have liked to see a little better editing.
DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my unbiased review of it. I was not promised gifts or rewards to provide a positive review. All opinions are mine, and none of the statements expressed in my review were forced upon me.
NOTES FOR THE EDITORS: This section is simply a note to the editors. I'm not sure editors and publishers ever read simple bloggers' reviews, but these are for their use in case this books goes into a subsequent printing.
1) Pluralization: "An infinite amount of power and possibilities await us" (p.15). Since "power" (no "s") is used, then "possibility" (no "ies") should also be used. Therefore, "awaits" (with an "s") should be used.
2) "Where God has given clarity in his Word. So throughout Scripture..." (p.37). The first sentence seems to suggest a comma should be used after "Word" and that an additional phrase is missing. As written, however, it appears to be an incomplete sentence.
3) "Don't mock those who overestimate their potential for the kingdom of God. mock those who underestimate it" (p.63). I agree with the idea, but the "m" in "mock" needs to be capitalized.
4) On page 71, J.D. began telling a story about a Muslim man named "Ahmed" who had dreams and asked for interpretation. I think it would have been good to complete the story, but J.D. left me hanging.
5) Referring to an analogy about a friend paying a debt he didn't owe to cover your $900,000 back taxes, J.D. wrote, "...but your friend paid that debt off, you would probably fall on your feet and say..." How does one "fall on" his feet? Did he mean "knees"? Did he mean, "fall from your feet"?
at 7:22 AM